Report: White House open to civilian nuke program in Iran

Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei must be able to provide tangible proof the country's nuclear ambitions do not include building an atomic bomb if the United States is to allow any program to proceed, the Washington Post reported on Friday. 

The demand was reportedly relayed from the White House to Khamenei by via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week. 

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President Obama apparently outlined his demands to Erdogan during their meeting in Seoul on March 25. 

Khamenei has been recently quoted as saying Iran "will never pursue nuclear weapons," according to the Post. 

Iranian officials have repeatedly claimed the program is strictly designed as a civilian energy program. 

However, the Iranian leader has also said the country will hit back if the United States or its allies attempt to take military action against the country's nuclear facilities. 

“Against an attack by enemies — to defend ourselves either against the U.S. or Zionist regime — we will attack them on the same level that they attack us,” he told the Associated Press on March 20. 

Tehran continues to deny access to their facilities to nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

That lack of access has raised suspicions over Iran's true intentions for its nuclear program. 

In February, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that intelligence shows that Iran has yet to transition its nuclear program into a full-fledged weapons program. 

"That is the red line," Panetta told subcommittee members during the February 16 hearing. 

The United States has already implemented numerous diplomatic and economic sanctions to persuade Iran into complying with IAEA inspectors prior to the administration's latest offer. 

However, Tehran continues to keep the nuclear program under tight wraps. 

News of the White House's offer comes weeks before negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group — the five United Nations Security Council members plus Germany -- over Tehran's nuclear efforts are scheduled to begin. 

Iran last held talks with the six world powers in January 2011 with no results.

The upcoming talks have already hit a snag when a top Iranian lawmaker shot down plans to hold nuclear talks in Turkey. 

"Iranian officials are not interested in Turkey as the host," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of a key foreign policy committee in Iran's parliament, was quoted as saying in the independent Etemad newspaper on Thursday. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced over the weekend that Istanbul would host the talks, which are scheduled for April 14-15. Istanbul was the site of the previous round of talks in 2011.